SAN JOSE, Calif.--Somebody forgot to tell rookie Tomas Hertl that Phoenix Coyote goalie Mike Smith owns the San Jose Sharks. Or maybe it was the language barrier.
Either way, two goals by the 19-year-old forward from the Czech Republic early in the first period sparked San Jose to a 4-1 victory Saturday night over the Coyotes to keep the Sharks undefeated in this young season.
The goals were Hertl's first in the NHL as he hasn't taken long to show why the Sharks used the 17th overall pick to make him their first-round choice in the 2012 draft.
That the two goals came against Smith gave them added weight. The Coyote netminder was 6-0-1 in his last seven starts against the Sharks, and had a .985 save percentage in two games against them last season.
"He feels good playing against us," Sharks Coach Todd McLellan said of Smith before the game. "It's our job to try and turn the tide a little bit."
Hertl's goals did just that. Patrick Marleau added his second of the season later in the first period to stake the Sharks to a 3-0 lead. That held up until Coyote defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson beat San Jose goalie Antti Niemi late in the second period for the lone Phoenix tally while Logan Couture scored into an open net with 24.6 seconds left in the game.
After being drafted by the Sharks, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Hertl played a second season in the Czech elite men's league, competing against older players. When he reported for training camp, his teammates had high praise for everything except maybe his command of English.
"It's always interesting when you're talking with him," Brent Burns said last week. "You never really know what's going to come out of that mouth."
Saturday night, it didn't take Hertl long to communicate that he wasn't cowed by Smith's reputation as the rookie's first goal came just 46 seconds into the game.
The play developed as defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic stopped a Coyote rush through the neutral zone, then delivered the puck to Hertl as he was about to cross into the Phoenix zone.
At that point he headed straight to the net, splitting the two Coyote defensemen before shoveling a backhand shot that got past Smith for a 1-0 lead.
Hertl's second goal came on a Sharks power play that came to life after going 0 for 8 in San Jose's first game of the season.
The Sharks won the opening faceoff with a man advantage and got the puck to defenseman Matt Irwin at the blue line. He sent a wrist shot toward the net and Hertl deflected it over Smith's glove at 7:23.
Not much later, the Sharks were on their second power play when the rebound of a shot by Joe Pavelski caromed to Vlasic and he crisply put it on Marleau's stick just outside the crease. The Sharks' all-time leading goal scorer didn't miss at 12:30 San Jose continued to dominate play in the second period, holding a 32-11 edge in shots at one point before the Coyotes took advantage of a lapse that let an unchecked Ekman-Larsson fire a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle that beat Niemi at 16:47.
The Sharks outshot Phoenix 50-23. San Jose's next game is at home Tuesday night against the New York Rangers.
--McLellan made one change in the lineup that won San Jose's season opener against the Vancouver Canucks, inserting John McCarthy at right wing on the fourth line.
McCarthy, 27, had been sent to Worcester at the start of the season, but received the call-up ahead of another prospect, Freddie Hamilton, who appeared to have passed him on the depth chart.
McCarthy replaced Matt Pelech, who was reassigned to Worcester.
--Although Stuart has said he is close to returning to the lineup, he missed his second game because of an off-season lower body injury.
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